Often, working at home means that it is difficult to draw the line between work and not-work. Notice that I don't say leisure, as I am not sure what leisure means nowadays - is gardening a hobby when you are growing your own food, and food for B&B guests to eat? Does housework count as paid work when you are cleaning the guest wing of the cottage? Are sewing and knitting leisure activities when you aren't making things to sell, but making them to use or to give rather than buy?
The poet Philip Larkin talked about not 'let[ting] the toad work squat on your life', and amongst all the different things I do to earn a crust there are some toady bits, but I prefer D H Lawrence's poem 'Work' which recommends work that 'absorbs you like an absorbing game' - this weekend I was able to take the Lawrence approach, banish any hint of squatting toads, and lose myself in some making and creating.
It is not finished yet but just looking at the happiness colours of the fabric, and the stitches taken so gently, sitting so quietly, listening to Anthony Trollope's The American Senator (I have never read it, but I am ordering it in post haste) on Radio 4, takes me back to a Saturday afternoon out of time and fret and fever.
And even on a Monday, when the toads wake and rear their ugly, swollen heads again, at home the kitchen is filled with the pungent smell of plum chutney (recipe here), the measurable result of work which is making and creating. And it has promise for the future: the pleasure of eating, pleasure deferred, is enhanced by the memory of sowing, and growing and harvesting and chopping, in a continuum from earth to table.
There is jelly in the making, drip, drip, dripping its taste and sweetness into a bowl on the table. Tiny purple-black bush plums from the hedgerow, no work to grow, nature's bounty to harvest and store in rosy and jewel-like jars for the winter.
The tomatoes and peppers fill baskets, prolific and red - more goodness to be savoured when the plants are long gone.
And what to do with the cucumbers - don't tell me to pickle them, please, but delicious while they last.
There is work where the end is concrete and visible, not something repetitious to tick off, but cyclical and seasonal and sustaining, work to look back on and revisit and remember when the toads are long gone, squatting in their stagnant pools, bitter tasting.
I know which work I prefer . . .